Five Things I’ve Learned After Six Years Of Immersion Travel

Planet Earth

Last week Cris and I had a several-hours-long conversation with Jason Sugar from Breakthrough Adventures. He had just arrived in Mexico to begin the start of his new journey (we had previously been apartment hunting for him at Isla Mujeres) and we were talking about life, travel, experiences, teaching others, life coaching and the various things we’ve learned along the way.

During the course of the conversation we touched upon some of the things that travel and a life of location independence has introduced into our lives. Things which, had we stayed at home and remained locked in a life of wage slavery and suburbia, we never would have had the opportunity to experience. I truly believe that travel unlocks your destiny and allows you to achieve the heights of what it is that you are supposed to be doing while on Planet Earth, so without further ado here are some of what I consider to be the most important lessons I’ve learned after six years of location independence and immersion travel.

Cultural Awareness

One of the most important lessons I’ve learned after six years on the road is simply this: every human being on the planet is created equal and is deserving of equal respect. When it comes to cultural awareness and, more importantly, cultural respect, there is no such thing as a superior country or culture. If you come from a place where you’ve been brainwashed since birth to believe that your country is number one, or that you are better or smarter simply because of the accidental location of your birth, you have a lot to learn about the way the world really operates.

There is a saying that I like to quote by James A. Michener: If you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear the religion and avoid the people, you might better stay at home. This is absolutely true when it comes to traveling around the world. If you cannot accept your fellow human beings as equal, if you cannot give their cultural viewpoints the same respect you expect them to give yours when they are visiting your country, stay at home.

While I don’t always agree with everything I come across in my travels, from religion and politics to the treatment of women, sex trafficking or child marriages, just because a culture has evolved in a different way from the one where I grew up doesn’t make me superior in any way, shape or form. I am simply another human being with another point of view and as a visitor I have no right to make any judgments whatsoever regarding another culture or another person’s choice of how they live.

The Lie of Nationalism

Coming from the United States I was raised with the traditional “for God and country” mindset. From the time children are old enough to read and write they are programmed with a specific set of values and a specific point of view regarding the rest of the world.

The United States is not alone in this. Every country on the planet programs its people through cultural brainwashing. They are taught pledges of allegiance, national anthems, to fear the police, to obey the government leaders, and to fight and die for the country even if they don’t necessarily know what that means. They are told how they should believe, what they should think, how they should act, and they are told from the time they are old enough to understand their language that the rest of the world beyond the borders of the home country is evil, inferior, immoral, corrupt and dangerous.

None of this is true. As a world traveler I have learned that every single human being on the planet has the same basic desires in life. They want to live, to have the freedom to enjoy the world that we’ve been blessed enough to discover, to express themselves through art and creativity, to mingle and explore and love and laugh with others of their kind.

They do not desire to kill or to rape or to violate or to destroy. They simply wish to live and love and experience the universe that we have been blessed enough to be born into.

The following is an excerpt from Beyond Borders – The Social Revolution, available as a stand-alone book or also as part of a package from our Immersion Travel store.

Many people have forgotten the story of Charlie Chaplin, one of the greatest actors of the early film industry and a staunch believer and supporter of The Greater Good, the Human Experience, of Global Communication and working together as a combined humanity to the point he was blacklisted in Hollywood and dubbed a Socialist/Communist and basically kicked out of the industry and the U.S.

The below speech from The Great Dictator, which now is regarded as a classic, and as absolutely as relevant today as it was back then, details the importance of working together, as a human species, towards the evolution of the entire human race, through technology and communication on a global scale. No more fighting. No more wars. Progress without nationality. Without prejudice. Without greed or hate. Simply coexistence. Peace, love, and understanding, on a global scale.

Ultimately, this was the film that led to J. Edgar Hoover and the government of the United States aggressively pursuing means to force Chaplin out of the country. His anti-nationalist views, at first praised because they were critical of Hitler and the Nazi movement, were stirring up the same anti-government ideals in the people of the U.S. during the McCarthy era. Eventually, he was deemed to be a dangerous threat to the “freedoms” of the United States, and steps were taken to ensure he could never work in the film industry on U.S. soil again.

I’m sorry but I don’t want to be an emperor. That’s not my business. I don’t want to rule or conquer anyone. I should like to help everyone if possible: Jew, gentile, black man, white.

We all want to help one another. Human beings are like that. We want to live by each other’s happiness, not by each other’s misery. We don’t want to hate and despise one another.

In this world there’s room for everyone and the good earth is rich and can provide for everyone. The way of life can be free and beautiful but we have lost the way. Greed has poisoned men’s souls, has barricaded the world with hate, has goose-stepped us into misery and bloodshed. We have developed speed but we have shut ourselves in.

Machinery that gives abundance has left us in want. Our knowledge has made us cynical, our cleverness, hard and unkind. We think too much and feel too little. More than machinery we need humanity. More than cleverness we need kindness and gentleness. Without these qualities, life will be violent and all will be lost.

The airplane and the radio have brought us closer together. The very nature of these inventions cries out for the goodness in man, cries out for universal brotherhood, for the unity of us all. Even now my voice is reaching millions throughout the world, millions of despairing men, women, and little children, victims of a system that makes men torture and imprison innocent people.

To those who can hear me I say, “Do not despair.” The misery that is now upon us is but the passing of greed, the bitterness of men who fear the way of human progress. The hate of men will pass, and dictators die, and the power they took from the people will return to the people. And so long as men die, liberty will never perish.

Soldiers, don’t give yourselves to brutes, men who despise you, enslave you, who regiment your lives, tell you what to do, what to think, and what to feel, who drill you, diet you, treat you like cattle, use you as cannon fodder. Don’t give yourselves to these unnatural men, machine men with machine minds and machine hearts.

You are not machines, you are not cattle, you are men! You have the love of humanity in your hearts.

You don’t hate. Only the unloved hate, the unloved and the unnatural.

Soldiers, don’t fight for slavery, fight for liberty! In the 17th chapter of St Luke it is written, “The Kingdom of God is within man. Not one man, nor a group of men, but in all men. In you!”

You, the people, have the power, the power to create machines, the power to create happiness.

You, the people, have the power to make this life free and beautiful, to make this life a wonderful adventure.

Then in the name of democracy, let us use that power. Let us all unite! Let us fight for a new world, a decent world that will give men a chance to work, that will give youth a future and old age a security.

By the promise of these things, brutes have risen to power. But they lie! They do not fulfill that promise. They never will! Dictators free themselves but they enslave the people.

Now let us fight to fulfill that promise! Let us fight to free the world, to do away with national barriers, to do away with greed, with hate and intolerance. Let us fight for a world of reason, a world where science and progress will lead to all men’s happiness.

Soldiers, in the name of democracy, let us all unite!

While the speech was written for a movie in the 1940s, you can easily insert “computer” and “Internet” in place of radio and airplane and understand what he means when speaking the words, “The very nature of these inventions cries out for the goodness in man, cries out for universal brotherhood, for the unity of us all.”

Unity. It is a foreign concept to those raised in the pre-Internet world. A world of closed borders, of tightly controlled information, of Cold Wars and propaganda campaigns and “us” versus “them” mentalities. A world of West versus The Rest. A world of walls and borders and barriers and World Wars.

But the modern era, the world of The Internet, is a unified place where freedom of information is spreading like wildfire around the globe. The Cold War is over, the Berlin Wall has fallen, capitalism is fading and socialism and equality are on the rise. It is a time of unification, a time of radical social evolution and shifts in political power as men and women around the planet have access to freely shared information without government controlled propaganda machines printing only the headlines that dictators want the people to see.

Freedom exists not just for one man, nor for a group of men, but for all men. For you! Only dictators wish to control information, to control the people, to control you. You are not machines, you are not cattle, you are Human Beings, with love in your hearts and the ability to embrace your fellow Men and Women with equal measure of respect on a global scale.

We all want to help one another. Human beings are like that. We want to live by each other’s happiness, not by each other’s misery. We don’t want to hate and despise one another. The only people who desire to harm another brother or sister are those whose minds have been subverted by The System, who are plugged into The Matrix.

In the modern world of global information and communication, we are returning to the days of absolute freedom, where men and women view each other equally without hate, without fear, without the lie of national pride, without a “pledge of allegiance”, without a “national anthem”, without a “national religion”. Brothers and sisters from all corners of the globe are able to come together in a singular, unified vision of world peace and understanding, free of the mind control that governments and religions were able to enforce in the days before The Internet.

With these changes comes the power to create our own realities. True freedom, not just on a creative level, but also on a personal level. A chance to unplug. A chance to set out on the digital oceans with your own private vessel, sailing to the shores of countries that you and you alone wish to see. Free from control. Free from someone else’s designs on your life. Free to live the life that you want to live in the places that you want to live it. A human being on Planet Earth, roaming free just like the animals who are our brothers and sisters just as much as any other human is, without any sort of social ties binding us to a specific place or job or responsibility. Freedom to control our own destinies as we see fit…without someone herding us as a group of cattle.

Wage Slavery

Credit and wage slavery are nothing more than forms of control. One of the most interesting conversations I have ever had was while living in Bulgaria at the start of the country’s joining with the European Union. It was with my neighbor who was in his early 50s and had a daughter who was in her early 20s. The credit system had just arrived in Bulgaria. Prior to this moment, 98% of the population of the country owned their homes. Mortgages and credit were almost non-existent, with the exception of businesses.

His daughter had already gone out and racked up over €20,000 in debt through the purchase of a vehicle, clothing and a brand-new smart phone, all of which she had previously been doing without. And while it is certainly true that those of us who work online have a certain amount of needs as it relates to technology, his daughter had fallen prey to the number one flaw in the capitalist system: living far beyond your means and burying yourself in debt.

He was terrified. In tears. Completely broken down as he watched his daughter sign her life away simply so she could have a new car that she didn’t need to impress her friends and be “just like all the people she saw on the TV shows from the United States”. Hook, line and sinker, reeled in, skinned and laid out alongside billions of others who have fallen prey to the baited hook.

I know firsthand what it means to live beyond your means. My own brother committed suicide at the age of 30 with over $300,000 of debt to his name. Wage slavery is one of the major issues plaguing the world at this time, and the fault lies entirely at the feet of the Western point of view. As you travel around the world you will find that many people in supposedly Third World countries actually have far more net worth than their Western counterparts, and while they may be bringing home less per month than someone from a first world country, the difference is that everything they have, they own. There is no credit, there is no debt, and there is no slavery.

The more countries I travel to, the more I find that credit, debt and wage slavery are something that only exist in the Western world where people have become addicted to instant gratification and the lie of credit and the so-called American Dream.

Expanding Your Horizons

If you lock a person in the dark for their entire life, they have no concept of light. No concept of color. They are ignorant, and blissfully so; to them, the entire world is darkness and shadows and sensory deprivation. But because they don’t know any better they are content.

Before you become a world traveler, before you learn a second language, before you experience another culture, go native and actually immerse yourself in another country, you cannot understand what it means to be in someone else’s shoes. You have no perspective, no concept of light or color or culture. You are a blind man, blissfully ignorant, content simply because you don’t know any better.

The only way we can expand our horizons to become the universal entities we were meant to be, the infinite cosmic creations that each and every one of us are, is by opening our eyes and continually looking to the horizon to find new experiences that challenge us and force us to learn, adapt and overcome.

Before I left the United States I had no idea what I was getting into. I didn’t speak any other languages, despite having traveled to many different countries. I had never explored Eastern religions, I had never immerse myself in astrology, history, economics, global politics, finance or anything related to expanding my conscious self.

I was simply a redneck construction worker who drove a pickup truck and happened to enjoy science fiction, high fantasy, video games and travel enough so that I had experienced a fraction of the world through vacations taken in between work contracts.

Now, I run a global business. I can conversationally speak two languages (rusty on the third as I’ve been out of Bulgaria for a few years now). I’ve traveled to dozens of countries, lived in three of them, opened up bank accounts, started businesses, established residency, relationships, friendships and beyond, all on a global basis.

Every day I learn, unlearn, and learn again. I consistently read and challenge myself with material that forces me to think outside the box. One of the greatest issues plaguing the world is that people are afraid to read anything that challenges their point of view because it pushes them out of their comfort zone, but the only way to grow as an individual, the only way to expand your horizon, is to challenge yourself.

Aristotle, Plato, Socrates: these great minds did not sit around and surround themselves by yes-men. They surrounded themselves by critics and peers who did not agree with them, forcing themselves on a daily basis to continually evaluate and adapt their points of views, to read new material and to occasionally find themselves changing their personal stances as they realized that where they were once blissfully unaware, there was room for adaptation. Change. Something new and completely different.

In the words of Alvin Toffler, “The illiterate of the 21st century are not those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn”. If you follow the lectures of one of the greatest speakers of the 20th century, Terence McKenna, he often spoke of cultural programming, and that the only way to expand your mind, to get in touch with the universe, was to understand that our minds are nothing more than organic computers, capable of being programmed, formated and reprogrammed with any type of information we want. Infinite possibilities. 

Universal Awareness

Realizing our full potential as part of the unfolding universe is just one of the many amazing aspects of being a human being. We are, as Carl Sagan put it, the universe experiencing itself, stardust manifested in human form.

Every single molecule on planet Earth is connected, from the branch of a tree to the toenail of a human being to the leaf on an apple tree to the eye of a dolphin to the wings of a hummingbird to the clouds in the sky, the stars in the heavens and the universe itself beyond.

There is absolutely no difference between you and me, a plant, an animal, a planet or the universe itself. We are all made up of molecules, spinning around wildly, 99% empty space and nothing more than a unique series of vibrations creating physical manifestations of consciousness.

One of the most poetic songs I can think of to demonstrate this simple universal truth is John Lennon’s Imagine. When you finally realize that there is no such thing as heaven or hell, that the lines governments draw on maps mean absolutely nothing, that religion and politics are nothing more than forms of control, ways of manipulating men and women to do specific things for a specific group of people, when you realize that everything we do and everything we are is nothing more than the universe experiencing itself…well, the world suddenly takes on an entirely different light.

Universal awareness is the single most important thing I have taken away from my six years on the road. Before I left the United States I didn’t have a clue about spiritual awareness, universal vibrations, cosmic consciousness, the interconnectivity of everything or our uniqueness as tendrils of cosmic DNA strewn out across the vastness of the universe to explore, experience and create.

Imagine no possessions. No need for greed or hunger. A brotherhood of man, all people, of all cultures, sharing the world with no reason to kill each other, no countries or religions or politics forcing us to believe a certain way, to act a certain way, to kill another person and to feel no guilt over it. Imagine all of the people the planet simply living for today, in peace and harmony with each other, basking in the glorious warmth of universal awareness as we channel our collective consciousness towards peace, love and a greater understanding as we explore the universe together on this organic spaceship called Earth.

If you have the time, I encourage you to watch the following film. The quality isn’t the greatest, nor are the subtitles, but it’s incredibly difficult to find a torrent file or physically because the film was banned in so many countries upon release…simply because the ideas it promotes are completely against government and religion and politics, and instead tells people that none of it really matters.

It’s about an advanced civilization from another planet who are so far beyond government and religion and politics and war that they live in a place that is simply green and beautiful. The opening scene, when they talk about the individuals they’ve sent back to Earth to try and teach humanity, and the current state of evolution, is priceless…and the movie itself is told from the perspective of a group of people who are so far removed from the things we commonly concern ourselves with that it is comical at times.

It’s called The Green Beautiful. Give it a view. If you don’t walk away with a changed perspective…well, not everyone out there is ready for universal awareness. For those of you who are…a brotherly hug and a healthy chuckle.

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About T.W. Anderson

T.W. Anderson is the founder of the Marginal Boundaries brand. He is the writer, editor, videographer, photographer, and social media guru alongside Cristina Barrios, the other half of the brand. In his spare time, he is the creative director of the Saga of Lucimia, a forthcoming MMORPG from Stormhaven Studios, LLC.


  • Indeed, Tyler. And beyond that, it’s cognitive enhancement 101.

  • I especially like the points you make about language in this post. I think knowing a second or third language is a well-earned badge of immersive travel. The process of learning to communicate all over again returns us to a childlike, vulnerable state that opens us up to the real essence of the culture.

  • Oh, these are some deep thoughts. They make me see the world with different eyes.

  • Hola, Franca. Thanks for the comment :)

    Indeed; I sold everything off at the end of 2007 and headed out. I’m finishing up my 6th year in 2013; 2014 will be my seventh year.

    I didn’t, however, start blogging about my travels until 2011. The first few years I was purely working as a freelance writer while living in Bulgaria and then initially in Cancun, traveling purely for the fun of it and not worrying about travel blogging. Then I got turned onto the lifestyle and it’s all been history since then :)

  • Franca says:

    I knew you’ve been traveling for long time but didn’t realize it was for 6 years.
    Based on my still limited traveling experience compared to yours, I love what traveling did and still does to me. What you said about learning these lessons is so true and sometimes the only way to really apprehend and absorb certain realities is by living them which means leaving the so loved comfort zone. Once you do that it’s not easy go back to that ‘normality’ you were used to, and I love that!
    Thanks for sharing your deep thoughts :)

  • Indeed, Freya :) Once you see the world for what it really is, there’s no going back :)

  • These are valuable lessons to learn. I agree wholeheartedly that traveling can expand your horizons. All the things you will see, all the experiences, will contribute to your open-mindedness. You will no longer be satisfied to be boxed in, for you have seen how big the world can be.

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